We’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Laura Yecies, CEO of SugarSync, several times about the online backup, storage and syncing application. In those conversations, the topics of working moms, kids and work/life balance came up so we posed some more personal questions to Yecies. Here’s an excerpt of her bio on CrunchBase followed by our interview.
Chief Executive Officer at Sharpcast Inc. (makers of the award-winning SugarSync online data back-up and storage, syncing and file sharing service), is a consumer software and Internet services industry veteran with nearly two decades of experience leading top consumer brands such as ZoneAlarm, Yahoo and Netscape.
Yecies received her M.B.A. from Harvard, plus an M.S.F.S. from Georgetown School of Foreign Service where she graduated with honors in International Business Diplomacy. She received her A.B. Magna Cum Laude in Government from Dartmouth and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She has been on staff as a lecturer for International Marketing at Santa Clara University, and serves on the Board of several community non-profit organizations. She has lived in Brazil, Venezuela, England and France and is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and French.
Q: What do you “do for a living and how much time do you devote to your work?”
Yecies: I’m the CEO of an exciting Silicon Valley startup that’s right in the middle of a hot new market. That means I’m working almost all the time. But the sacrifice could have major benefits for my family in the long run, so they understand. Communication is singularly the most important aspect of my job as a wife and mother during this crazy time. Even though I’m “online” a lot in the evening, we try to always have dinner together as a family and I set aside time each week to spend alone with each member of the family and in the case of my kids to go to their school events, sports games and concerts.
Q. What do you love about your work?
Yecies: Ironically (and also very luckily), our product is designed to significantly help professionals in their quest for a good work/life balance by providing them with access to all their computer files from many different kinds of devices (or just over the Internet). So not only am I an advocate of SugarSync, I’m also perhaps its biggest fan. Without the freedom of having all my data at my fingertips, I’d be tied to the office and away from my family even more. Even if I need to leave the office during the day or in the evening before my work is done - I can do it knowing that I have access to all my files, even from my phone. I am super excited to be working on a product that can have such a positive impact on our users’ lives.
Q. How old are your kids?
Yecies: I have a daughter that is 16, 3 sons that are 13, 21 and 24 and a new daughter-in-law that’s 23. I also have 13 nieces and nephews ranging from infant to 13 that I love spending time with.
Yecies: I think younger children can have a harder time with a mother who is always on the go. That’s why I had a rule for each of my children: for the first year, they were never without me overnight. If I had a business trip to the East Coast or South America (and I often did), the baby came with me. All of my children had very enviable passports before they were even old enough to walk!
Now that one is married, another is in college, and my daughter is driving, I feel like they almost appreciate having a busy mother. We are all busy with our work during the day but we know we will be together in the evening. They know I will *always* prioritize them when needed, but at this point they have their own lives to lead (and don’t need a mom living vicariously through them). My youngest son, at 13, probably feels the weight of my job more than the others. This is where communication and prioritization become so critical. I have always tried to embue a strong work ethic in my children and I believe that actions speak louder than words with children (and adults). I am glad they see my dedication to my work and that they see the enjoyment and satisfaction that can be gained from a challenging and interesting career. My mother worked full time as a physician and my mother-in-law was an attorney so my children have 2 generations of role models.
Q. What are your thoughts on work/life balance?
Yecies: I speak about work/life balance often because its what SugarSync empowers people to achieve. Philosophically, I believe the balance is important on both sides. Too much ‘life’ and your mental sharpness starts to atrophy. Too much ‘work’ and you can easily burn out or leave your family and friends needing attention. My best advice for busy professional mothers: set boundaries, both at work and at home, and take care to enforce them. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. You can’t do it all. Delegate, delegate,
delegate, and sometimes accept that the tasks you’ve delegated may not be done the way you would have done…them though be prepared to be surprised on the positive side. That applies to your son folding the laundry, your husband (or Whole Foods) cooking dinner or your colleague drafting a proposal.
Yecies: SugarSync is a sort of digital companion. If you have multiple devices, say a work laptop, a home PC, an iPhone (or Blackberry etc), SugarSync syncs all of your data between all your devices, as well as backing up files to a secure online repository. So all of your files and folders are at your fingertips wherever you are from any device. So it no longer matters what files are on what computer, and you don’t have to worry if you lose a device. Plus, SugarSync allows me to share photos, videos and music, which brings me closer to my family all the time, even when I’m away. I have been known to demo SugarSync by showing off picture of my children!
Q. As a busy executive, what tools (in addition to SugarSync) do you use to work more efficiently?
Yecies: I don’t leave home without a smartphone…usually either an iPhone or my Blackberry (yes, I still haul both around). Although admittedly I’m looking at an Android device…with both the physical keyboard and beautiful design, it would be a good option for any professional mom. Wherever possible I try to get my non-SugarSync applications to be cloud-based - that way I can turn unexpected downtime waiting in line or in the orthodontist reception area into productive work time.
Q. What advice would you give to businesswomen who struggle with work/life balance and the guilt that comes with not “doing enough?”
Yecies: We’d all love to be supermom, superwife and super-employee all the time. As much as our families and our jobs do need us, these are all collaborative environments. Not only should everyone pitch in, its their responsibility to help. You also need time for yourself. Take it.
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